Demystifying Your Cloud Ecosystem

Familiarizing yourself with the cloud and data ecosystems governing your organization can mirror the process that occurs when we, as children, step out into new natural environments for the first time. Often these premature experiences may evoke confusion, fear, misconception, misunderstanding, and naiveté, until appreciating that the potential and value that our networks hold are equivalent to the risks of its mismanagement. As we deconstruct the entangled web of the data and cloud ecosystem, the importance of stewardship and knowledgeable management of this robust, fast-paced, and quickly transforming environment will start to become much clearer.

1.       What is in this ecosystem?

2.       How do I identify it?

3.       And what do I do with it?

These are a few of the broad questions you might ask when embarking on this discussion. We will cover those later on, but let’s try to break down the notion of the ecosystem as simply and as concisely as possible. The “BYO_” trend—kin to the good old days when Bring Your Own Beer (BYOB) was a vitally important contribution to your social and professional network—has now evolved into the era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and most recently, Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC). As you might imagine, it must be challenging enough for IT departments to manage in the inflow and outflow of devices capturing and disbursing data within their organizational network, and this has posed enough substantial problems. However, BYOC, which permits the use of individual’s personal cloud and application services, is our present data management impasse. Rather than the traditional IT paradigm where we see data generated and stored within the confines of organizational databases—where applications are tailored, monitored, and restricted for security purposes—we have shifted to emphases on the individual’s productivity. Shadow IT is the name of the game, a hands-off modification of traditional IT that has promoted dynamic environments while raising dire security concerns. But what does this mean for your data ecosystem, your ever-important data environment?

The implications of this shift are huge! Much greater than we might realize, actually. Employees have increased levels of flexibility, thus promoting productivity, collaboration, and other positive workplace benefits. But how can an organization securely manage whirlwinds of intangible data entering and leaving an ecosystem? A couple of facts might help explain these challenges: An estimated 86% of time on iOS and Android devices is now spent on applications, again, generally within an ecosystem but out of IT’s full control. Furthermore, we now have evidence that IT departments underestimate cloud application usage within their network by around 90%!  And most importantly, all of this action is taking place where security is paramount, where organizational data, accounts, credentials, records, documents, and other sensitive information are housed. As the components, densities, frameworks of the ecosystem become more apparent, we can grasp the surface level concept. The next question is, how do we really understand what is going on inside?